Springsteen at the Super Bowl? Ugh. Why Not Kanye?

By Martin Cizmar

So it looks like the NFL has screwed the pooch once again, tapping an ugly old white dude to play this year’s Super Bowl halftime show.

Yes, Bruce Springsteen, a man who was last relevant during the Reagan Administration (three presidents ago and counting!) and who is known for marathon shows that don’t so much stun audiences as pummel them into submission.

I know what you’re thinking: “Dude! The Super Bowl is in Tampa this year, no one’s going to watch it anyway!” You’re totally wrong. People will watch the Superbowl, even if it’s in Tampa, and they deserve better than Bruce Springsteen.

It’s part of what’s turning out to becoming a tradition of the NFL picking the oldest, whitest, least-relevant, guitar-playing performer they can for their biggest night. Prince, of course, is an exception to the whiteness rule, but not to the old and irrelevant tags.

Every year this doesn’t get any easier for me to stomach... At least they’re done with the genre mixing. That unholy union of Britney Spears, Nelly and Aerosmith was arguably a bigger crime than even Tom Petty’s pathetically old ass.

The problem, some would say, is that Janet Jackson killed the fun for everyone with her stupid nipple stunt and the NFL has to play it safe. Sure, I guess there’s some truth to that. But they do have tape delay now. The point of the halftime show – to thrill casual, usually female fans – hasn’t changed. The NFL has just given up, appealing to the lowest common denominator. The Boss is someone who most people are willing to watch until the Pepsi commercials come on, but who no one really wants to see.

Picking a better act should not be that hard. Basically, this performer has to play three or four hit songs, have a decent stage show and not do anything too controversial.

Ideally, you want someone with at least three major hits this decade, preferably something huge in the last year or so. It’s best to have someone with some critical cache and an undeniably great song – a song no one with any sense can dislike – to close with. Someone who’s currently touring, and thus sharp on stage, is good. A giant, colorful and totally distinct stage show is necessary. Triumphant or sports-related hit songs are a bonus.

If it were up to me, I’d just book Daft Punk and be done with it. Think about it – “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” followed by “Around the World” and “One More Time” – but we’ll go ahead and say the NFL doesn’t want a masked French electronic duo playing their biggest stage.

So I submit to you this: A reprisal of Kanye West’s Glow In The Dark Tour, the best arena show I’ve seen in ages and with artists responsible for three of the top ten hits in the current Billboard Hot 100.

Young, hip, fresh and beloved by critics like me. A fantastic stage show with lots of imagery... I can see it now: Lupe Fiasco opens with “Superstar” (triumphant) before Rihanna plays “Umbrella” or one of her other lady-pleasing hits, then Kanye comes out and does “Stronger” or one of his newer hits, then “Touch the Sky” (joined by Lupe).

The tape delay will keep Kanye from reminding America who does and does not care about black people and we’ll have a slate of artists at the top of their game, instead of a grizzled old guy from New Jersey.

I'd watch that. Even from Tampa.

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Martin Cizmar
Contact: Martin Cizmar